So, all week long, I had told myself I wasn't going to do it. I had vowed repeatedly I would skip watching the "Discovery Atlas: Australia" program tonight, not so much because I thought I knew all about it already, but frankly because I was concerned it would make me depressed again about the whole work/immigration visa (or lack thereof) situation.
Unfortunately, curiousity won out.
I have to admit, though, it was quite informative in many ways, especially in regards to Aboriginal culture...a culture I have had very limited contact with on any of my now nine trips to the Lucky Country. As one would expect, the cinematography was phenonmenal and the narrative (done by actor Russell Crowe, as happy and solid as any non-Aussie born citizen can be, providing he's actually taken the oath by now...no matter, he did a very good job still the same) was understated, yet confident and colourful...much in keeping with the Aussies themselves. Surprisingly, the 2 hours didn't feature much on what Americans and most Westerners know about Oz and then 'fill in the edges'; instead, it broke the segments down into less populated (if not completely remote) areas of the country and dabbled very little into the city life and suburbia. It's an interesting tack, although I think focusing some on either Melbourne's or Sydney's creation from humble beginnings would have rounded out the focus a bit more...especially as most tourists will find themselves in either one or both at some point of their travels. Yet, an excellent evening spent still the same, even though I harbour love of the subject matter and its inhabitants.
There's a hardiness there in the people...cityfolk or Bush dwellers alike...that is simply not seen anymore in this country and perhaps was altogether missing from others. But the Discovery show is not about teaching you what you already (should) know, it's about showing you what so many people miss, and for that alone, the show succeeded. It's playing again tonight (Sunday 22 October) as a repeat, and will play again sometime this week, so please check it out if you missed tonight's viewing. (I cannot find another specific time off the Discovery TV channel site, but it was mentioned during the program. I do, however, recommend their add-on site as a primer.) As with all of their programs, it was well-edited and professional.
The show comes on the heels of some hopefully positive news on the visa front. A friend, whose passion for Oz rivals only my own, has found a previously-unresearched visa option that may be applicable to the two of us. And ever since she mentioned it to me this week, I have thought of hardly else. Perhaps the show tonight renews my inspiration, perhaps it encourages dreams I should give up on...who knows, but only time will tell. In fact, I sat there watching the Discovery show tonight with one eye, all the while scouring the net for as much information as I can find about this visa option with the other. It's been a tough couple of months since I was initially counseled that I may never make it to Oz for anything other than as a visitor, but there's a part of me that tells me to keep on trying still the same. This visa, if it came to fruition, most likely will mean I will never permanently move there, but it would allow me a stay of some time period...giving me a chance. And a chance is all I want.
As a many of you know, I had previously pretty much written off almost all attempts to go to Oz as visa worker and perhaps even move there permanently. However, some dreams refuse to die and I've been known to hang onto mine with more tenacity than most anyway. (If anyone reading this wants to move to Oz and work there, I cannot stress enough how important it is to go as a student when in high school or college and certainly try well before the age of 30. If I had known 30+ years would mean so much about a chance to move there, I would have went a full five years before I actually did for the first time...somehow. Do not wait until you get older...Oz wants you when you are young, single, and healthy.) The cursed obstacles come from their vile 'points test' required of skilled worker wannabes and the fact that, God forbid, work cultures between our two fine countries are not as alike as they may first appear. The 'points test' assesses your skills on language, age, education, job history, and skills shortages in Oz. And here's the kicker...my friend (also in administrative/secretarial fields) has a Masters degree, and I have a Bachelor's and 2 Associates degrees, both of us with work experience, excellent language skills, single, recommended for good character, ad nauseum...and the best we can hope for is to be 'on the bubble' in regards to the points. I did the math the other day and found I'd actually have more of a chance if my education was limited, if I were a refugee...and with poor language skills.
In the USA, employees are encouraged to learn as many skills as possible and change careers as need be...either for their own personal development or as a result of our ever-changing workforce. Jobs and careers that were 'the future' when I graduated 18 years ago from high school no longer are in demand, but have also been completely blown off the occupational map. Some dear friends who read this regularly know how varied that journey has been for me: I've been a movie theatre manager, EMS personnel, catering and restaurant worker, radio host, part-time columnist, travel professional, and (mostly) health care administrative professional. Not to mention off-hours self-taught computer geek, carpenter and musician. All of these experiences have been a godsend at times, insuring me a job that I could adapt into as others were let go or outsourced. Well, as I am in finding out firsthand, having a variety of job skills and even job titles can be the Achilles heel to Oz work visa applications. To sum up, job variety is good...to a point, but consistency with one employer for more than 5 years is golden. And job titles and qualifications are good, too...as long as they are Australian equivalents (which in many fields, can be a bit tougher than American standards) and can be verified through a school or university. And being over 30, and especially over 35, diminishes your chances further because the fertile, single, younger worker is in demand. Memo to my fellow Aquarians and self-learning people: sometimes trying to learn too many skills can bite you in the ass, at least temporarily. And sometimes being 35 (let alone beyond) really is older, too. I shall overcome all of these, but the 'how' of it is quite cloudy at the moment.
So, at age 36, I find myself employable in a country that I'm feeling 'out of synch with' on so many levels (politically, educationally, financially) because of my 'self-starting/self-learning' skills and adaptability, but unemployable (or at least unvisable, if that's even a word) in a country I adore and feel 'at home' in because of my lack of formal accreditation of same skills and varying jobs during my working life. The same adaptability, ironically, the "Atlas" show tonight hailed as cornerstones of Aussie success and survival. I knew 3 years ago when I decided Oz was my primary focus I was in for some unpredictable adventures getting there, but never in my wildest dreams did I think the endless rolls of red tape would be the first mountain I would encounter. In comparison, nothing in the Blue Mountains can come close.
So now I'm looking at my best, but also perhaps last, visa option to investigate. It may work, it may not...but I've got to at least give it everything I can when I try, which I have not completely before. (I get discouraged and then let that dwell on me, which makes me more discouraged about the situation...a self-fulfilling prophecy of not making any headway if there ever was one.) It's important to take that first step out onto the road, even if I have to adjust my stride a bit when I start walking. But, looking at the "Discovery Atlas: Australia" show tonight, I remembered why and where and when and how many times I fell in love with the place to begin with: it calls to me like it's home, really home. And I owe it to myself, and to my dreams, to do everything I can to make it back there.